IRIS students have had a busy past couple of weeks with participating in both the Iowa caucuses and attending the Iowa Student Global Leadership Conference, or ISGLC.
Seven IRIS students attended the Iowa caucus and had varying thoughts about the process.
“It’s kind of sketchy,” said Areeb Irfan, IRIS exchange student from Pakistan. “You guys trust people too much.”
Salim Ahmed from Tanzania was surprised by how many people attended his precinct in Dubuque, Iowa.
IRIS exchange student from Tanzania, Maria Mbura attended the caucus. She was impressed by how organized the American political system is.
In Tanzania, the public official running for office stands up and speaks in public at random times, so being able to hear first-hand from those wanting to be elected is just luck of the draw, explains Maria.
The same week the caucus was held, students attended the Iowa Student Global Leadership Conference, an annual event put on by the Stanley Foundation.
“ISGLC is always a highlight every year for students,” said Gina Zoss, YES Senior Program Assistant for IRIS. “It’s a way for students to connect with people from around the world and learn how they too can be a leader.”
ISGLC had ten exchange programs who attended the two-day conference on February 6 and 7 including IRIS with 25 students.
This is the conference’s 21st year, which included 155 students from 53 countries. With the diverse range of countries present, the students attending the conference represented 75 percent of the world’s population.
The conference hosted a variety of programming for exchange students. Friday night included country introductions, speed friending and a dance. Saturday included breaking into small group sessions to discuss global issues.
“IRIS encourages our students to attend the Iowa Student Global Leadership Conference every year because we see it as a valuable educational and social experience for them,” said Mary Hallman, YES Program Assistant for IRIS. “The Stanley Foundation always has great presentations for the students to learn about leadership and their role in the global society.”
Saturday also included the Global Simulation Workshop, a sort of simulation-game where students were split into two different groups, divided into countries within those groups and assigned four organizations: education, world health, human rights and environment, within their countries. A group known as the “World Bank” would then decide how much money to give each organization during times of struggle.
At the end of the game, the well being of each organization was compared between the two groups. The game’s purpose was to provide a real-world example of how the decisions of individuals affect the greater good.
Aside from getting to know other foreign exchange students located in Iowa, students were given time to share their experiences.
“This opportunity opens their eyes to new parts of the world, while also giving them a sense of togetherness in their shared experience here,” Mary said. “If nothing else, we know they’ll have a lot of fun, meet new people, and make life-long connections that span the globe.”